Barcelona's president 'hired social media company' to criticise Lionel Messi and others

Josep Maria Bartomeu, the president of Football Club Barcelona

A crazy story has emerged from Catalonia today.

As most football fans will know, Barcelona's 2019/20 season has been one littered with controversy.

Ernesto Valverde's sacking and Lionel Messi's online feud with Eric Abidal have summed up a tumultuous campaign for the Blaugrana so far.

But things have taken an ever wilder turn. Why you ask? Because reports from the city claim that club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has gone to extreme lengths to protect his position at the club.

SER Catalunya, per Sport, report that Bartomeu hired a social media company named I3 Ventures to attack the club's players, potential presidents and club legends online, therefore cleaning his own image.

Messi - the club's greatest ever player - was even the target of online criticism from a litany of social media accounts reportedly controlled by the company.

Guillem Balague responded to the reports on Twitter, writing: "These are some of the social media messages that the company contracted by FC Barcelona put out there. Attacks to Messi, Pique, Xavi, Puyol, Guardiola... It was supposed to help improve Bartomeu' (And his board) image but ended up trying to discredit 'the other side' of the club."

Below, you will find a few example of the posts allegedly made by I3 Ventures.

Wow. Barcelona's reputation is diminishing with each passing week.

The board are doing irreversible damage to the club and Bartomeu's actions could even push Messi towards the exit door.

Why on earth would you ever take aim at a player who has kept the club competitive in the past few years and is arguably the greatest footballer of all-time? Utter madness.

If Bartomeu is found guilty of these acts, his time as president should be brought to an end immediately.

Messi deserves better

You get the feeling this is just the beginning of something big - and not in a good way for Barcelona.

Mes que un club, eh?

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